Limerick hold off late Longford charge to start Tailteann Cup with a win:

By John Keogh Limerick Leader Sport

LIMERICK got off the a winning start in the Tailteann Cup after seeing off Longford on a 2-16 to 1-16 scoreline at the TUS Gaelic Grounds.

Goals in either half from Cathal Downes and Brian Donovan were enough to see Limerick home despite a late rally from a sticky Longford challenge.

Mark Fitzgerald’s side head to Carlow in their next game with plenty of confidence to take from a game that they dominated throughout.

It was Longford that got the opening score of the contest with midfielder Ryan Moffett bisecting the posts but Limerick soon replied with a goal.

Peter Nash’s initial shot was blocked and Colm McSweeney was first to the rebound. The Gerald Griffins man punched the ball across to the unmarked Cathal Downes and he curled a beauty into the top corner.

Longford responded with Dylan Farrell and Oran Kenny points to level the game but the home side were soon back on top. A James Naughton free and a Nash effort from play seeing them to a 1-2 to 0-3 lead with 17 minutes played.

Paddy Christie’s side then missed a glorious goal chance when Aaron Farrell found himself in acres of space inside the Limerick full back line but placed his shot wide of Donal O’Sullivan’s right post.

McSweeney then broke through the Longford defence with a powerful run and fisted over the bar from an acute angle to put Limerick three to the good.

Farrell and Naughton then traded frees before a well-taken point from play by Downes saw Limerick four to the good in the lead up to half time.

Longford then opened with the Limerick defence for a second time in the half when Keelin McGann broke through but he was denied by an onrushing O’Sullivan. Joe Hagan fired the rebound over the bar.

Farrell’s third of the half then brought Limerick’s advantage back to two but another excellent Nash kick saw the home side maintain their deserved three-point lead.

The Longford number 14 then bagged a fourth of the half with a sweet strike off his left boot, however, a Paul Maher score from play and a Naughton free saw Limerick 1-8 to 0-7 ahead at the break.

Longford made a solid start to the second half with two Oran Kenny points and one from Liam Connerton but Limerick were soon back in full control.

Nash’s shot from distance was saved on the line by Longford keeper Patrick Collum but McSweeney forced the ball off him. Michael Quinn came in and was penalised for laying on the ball.

Donovan stepped up and sent Collum the wrong way to put Limerick 2-9 to 0-10 ahead with 45 minutes on the clock.

Farrell got the next two scores for Longford but a fourth free of the evening from Naughton saw Limerick into a four-point lead with 20 minutes to play.

The excellence of Farrell, especially from placed balls, kept Longford in the contest and his seventh of the game had Limerick’s lead back to three points heading into the final 10 minutes.

Limerick had that advantage at six going into added time but a late Daniel Reynolds goal kept Longford in with a sniff. However, Tommy Griffin insured Limerick started off the Tailteann Cup with a win.

SCORERS – LIMERICK: James Naughton 0-6 (5 frees), Brian Donovan 1-2 (1-0 pen), Cathal Downes 1-1, Peter Nash 0-2, Colm McSweeney, Paul Maher, Cian Sheehan (1 mark), Hugh Bourke and Tommy Griffin 0-1 each.

SCORERS – LONGFORD: Dylan Farrell 0-7 (5 frees), Daniel Reynolds 1-0, Oran Kenny 0-3 (1 free), Joe Hagan and Liam Connerton 0-2 each, Ryan Moffett and Keelin McGann 0-1 each.

LIMERICK: Donal O’Sullivan; Mike Donovan, Seán O’Dea, Brian Fanning; Barry Coleman, Jim Liston, Paul Maher; Cillian Fahy, Cathal Downes; Cian Sheehan, Brian Donovan, Adrian Enright; James Naughton, Peter Nash, Colm McSweeney.

Subs: Hugh Bourke for Liston (46 mins), Tony McCarthy for Donovan (56 mins), Darragh Murray for Enright (62 mins), Tommy Griffin for Downes (67 mins), Davy Lyons for Nash (69 mins), David Connolly for O’Dea (76 mins, inj).

LONGFORD: Patrick Collum; Patrick Fox, Andrew Farrell, Bryan Masterson; Iarla O’Sullivan, Michael Quinn, Peter Lynn; Ryan Moffett, Dessie Reynolds; Dylan Farrell Joe Hagan, Aaron Farrell; Liam Connerton, Keelin McGann, Oran Kenny.

Subs: Jack Macken for Farrell (52 mins), Daniel Reynolds for Connerton (62 mins), Peter Foy for Lynn (65 mins).

REFEREE: Sean Lonergan (Tipperary)